Antihypertensive drug therapy and hypoglycemia in elderly diabetic patients treated with insulin and/or sulfonylureas

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We performed this case–control study to evaluate the risk of hypoglycemia associated with the use of antihypertensive drugs in older hospitalized diabetic patients treated with sulfonylureas and/or insulin. All diabetic patients admitted during 4 months in 1988, 1 month in 1991, 4 months in 1993 and 4 months in 1995 (n = 3477, mean age 71.4 ± 0.2 years, 1542 males and 1935 females) were enrolled in the study. During the four annual surveys 86 patients (mean age 71.1 ± 1.4 years, 33 males and 53 females) presented hypoglycemia during hospital stay. The patients who presented hypoglycemia were less frequently users of sulfonylureas and more frequently users of a combination of insulin and sulfonylureas. Use of antihypertensive drugs was similar in the two groups studied, and among potentially interacting drugs considered in the analysis, sulfonamides were more frequently used in patients who experienced hypoglycemia. Moreover, patients with hypoglycemia used a higher number of drugs, had a longer length of stay and had a greater prevalence of hypoglycemia as admission problem. Finally, although not significant, liver and renal diseases were more frequent among patients with hypoglycemia. In the multivariate analysis, contemporary use of insulin and sulfonylureas, liver disease and length of stay were significantly associated with hypoglycemia, while none of the antihypertensive drugs showed a significant association with the occurrence of hypoglycemia during hospital stay. Our results indicate that antihypertensive drugs do not increase the risk of hypoglycemia in elderly diabetic patients.

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